Early Election Results from Iraq: Only 22 Dead…

We’ll start our Sunday morning’s coverage of the Iraq election (polls closed at 1400 GMT… or a few minutes ago as I write this at 0930 EST) with this roundup from the Beeb. While the Iraqi election commission spouts figures like 75% turnout and 90% of Shiite turnout, there seems no possible way to verify this. Anecdotal reports are heavy Shiite and Kurdish turnout, and light Sunni turnout…. maybe VERY light. Election day violence killed 22; probably less than a typical day in Iraq… less than I would have guessed– I guess the shoot to kill curfew worked.
But as many gush about the success of the Bush Administration in pulling this off, the only figure that mattered as far as avoiding the coming civil war was the extent that Sunnis felt vindicated by this. Given that few voted, and according to this Zogby poll (thanks to Bruce the Veep), we see that Sunnis said they wouldn’t vote (around 76-9%), Sunnis (80%) said the U.S. should leave immediately, most ominously joined by 63% of Shiites in that sentiments (only Kurds want the Americans to stay… or like us much at all… for obvious reasons).
In short, other than a somewhat lower level of violence than I expected, this fiasco pretty much went as I thought it would: Shiites get their majority, Kurds get their autonomy, Sunnis get their justification for not only the insurgency, but what will now be a stepped up civil war.
Too late to call a do-over. We now have to count on magnanimous Shiites to see their self-interest as foregoing the opportunity to screw the Sunnis in the formation of their new constitution and permanent “legitimate everywhere except Sunnis areas” government. This in what is ostensibly a revenge based society. (Our only hope– and I mean this– is that the Kurds will be more magnanimous in suggesting that the Sunnis get the kind of autonomy they themselves enjoy, and recognize that only getting autonomy respected by others will keep themselves from being tied into the coming bloody all-out civil war. Not likely, but at least I view it as more possible than the Shia giving up their thirst for pay-back.)
As Bruce suggests: not really analogous to recent American elections like 2000 or 2004… more like the election of 1860. (BTW… circumstances can prove me wrong… I hope they do– as horrible as the carnage we have already brought to Iraq, look for a civil war there to kill millions, and very possibly draw Iran in formally if the instability spills over, with dire regional consequences.)
All I know is somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, a smile is creeping across Osama bin Laden’s face, as we have moved his dream of Islamic-world-wide-jihad closer to reality than he ever could have dreamed… All hail “democracy”.